I saw this book advertised and (having read Alice I Have Been) thought I liked Melanie Benjamin as an author well enough. Unfortunately, this was just blecch.
I'm not sure how true any of it was, but the whole thing just felt overdone and melodramatic. This is in the same tone as the recent flurry of books about FLW's women (The Women, Loving Frank) as well as Girl in a Blue Dress about Dicken's wife and The Paris Wife (about Hemingway), I'm just kind of tired of these books about the poor women who were stuck with the heroic (but unfaithful) man.
Benjamin (I think) would argue that she is writing a feminist novel about the choices that a woman had (or did not have) in the 1920s and how that same woman grew and changed through her life. Unfortunately, I found the whole thing trite and banal and just not very believable on a personal level.
Several times, Benjamin tries to get the reader to be upset at Charles' infidelities; but certainly she does not present Anne as completely chaste. And besides, what could either of them expect given that they spent so much time apart?
I also thought a few points were sloppy. The three most egregious were: 1. the fact that Anne was always worried about the schools. As far as I can tell, in the 1950s the upper crust would not have sent their kids to public schools anyway (and so local schools would not be a concern in picking a house). 2. When Anne talks to her mom on her mom's deathbed, she says that at least Anne and Charles always had their love. But isn't that the point of the whole book? That they are not in love? Apparently they have great sex, but there is no real mental connection between them ever. 3. I found the idea that Anne would find the picture of herself and Charlie in Charles' bag after his death to be just too over the top. Really? She never looked in his bag after all those years? Oh yeah, that's right she did and found his flack jacket when he returned from WWII. Where was the pic then? Huh?
Overall it was dumb and formulaic. I might not have hated it as much if I hadn't read it on the ipod (the glare of the screen gives me a bit of a headache to top it off).